Ohio to award $1M each to 5 adults who received at least 1 COVID-19 vaccine dose

Five lucky Ohioans have a chance to win one million dollars if they’ve received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Governor Mike DeWine said the lottery drawing will be held each Wednesday for five weeks starting on May 26.

"I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money’," the governor posted on Twitter. "But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19."

To be eligible to win, participants must be 18 years old or older and an Ohio resident.

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Funds will come from the existing federal coronavirus relief aid.

DeWine said the secretary of state’s office will pull from a list of names from the voter registration database. A website for people to signup will also become available.

It’s the latest move as states and companies offer incentives for Americans to get vaccinated. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 154 million Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, representing 46.4% of the total U.S. population. More than 117 million Americans have been vaccinated, representing 35.4% of the total U.S. population.

U.S. health advisers endorsed the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in kids as young as 12 on Wednesday — just as planned new guidelines say it’s OK for people of any age to get a coronavirus shot at the same time as other needed vaccinations.

Whether it’s free beer, pot and doughnuts. Savings bonds, or a chance to win an all-terrain vehicle, businesses and organizations across the U.S. are offering incentives to try to energize the nation’s slowing vaccination drive and get Americans to roll up their sleeves.

Krispy Kreme began offering a free doughnut a day to anyone showing proof of having been vaccinated. In Cleveland, a movie theater supplied free popcorn through in April. 

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Several marijuana dispensaries around the country are also giving out cannabis treats or free rolled joints. On April 20, marijuana advocates offered "joints for jabs" to encourage people to get vaccinated in New York City and Washington.

In Alaska, which traditionally has low vaccine confidence, the Norton Sound Health Corp., with a hospital in Nome and 15 clinics across western Alaska, has given away prizes, including airline tickets, money toward the purchase of an all-terrain vehicle, and $500 for groceries or fuel.

Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said that employers should give paid time off and that other incentives are needed to boost vaccinations. He pointed to West Virginia, which is giving $100 savings bonds to young adults who get their shot.

"We also need health systems and universities to mandate vaccination — that no one can be employed or on campus/medical facilities without having been vaccinated," Topol said in an email.

The nation’s vaccination rate has dramatically slowed in recent weeks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of about 690,000 Americans are getting their first dose of vaccine daily, down from a peak of more than 1.9 million per day a month ago.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky previously said the agency is working to educate people about the science, data and safety of vaccines in order to combat vaccine hesitancy.

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"We believe and know that the science moved quickly. We’ve enrolled 100,000 people in these trials and the science stood on the shoulders of years and years of work before to be able to deliver these vaccines," Wolensky told reporters in April during a virtual news conference.

"If people are worried about the side effects, we can convey the data of over 200 million vaccine doses and the safety and the scrutiny of that safety," she continued. "So we need to meet people where they are and understand why they might be hesitant and then give them the information that combats that hesitancy."

President Joe Biden has set a new goal of delivering at least one dose of vaccine to 70% of adult Americans by Independence Day and fully vaccinating at least 160 million by then.

He has also highlighted new efforts to encourage Americans to get COVID-19 shots, including free rides to and from vaccination sites from ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft, as the pace of shots nationally declines and he looks to meet his July Fourth inoculation targets.

Biden also announced new funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for community outreach efforts to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, as well as a new initiative to host federally supported vaccination sites at community colleges.

Biden also asked the governors to share their innovations to boost vaccine uptake, from mobile vaccination clinics to incentives like tickets to minor league baseball games or promotions at retailers like L.L. Bean.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.